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1st January 2015: A Flat Out Shame

So maybe this isn't technically a game you can finish, but I recently got done winning the grand finals of an oldish game called FlatOut 2, and that qualifies as a completion in my book.
I originally bought it as it looked like it would be a crazy fun game for LAN multiplayer, and after playing it the last few weeks I think it would certainly have been. However, as we found out, there was one massive flaw in the multiplayer mode: you can not add AI cars. What the hell were they thinking not putting that functionality in there? Even the best car racing game ever made would be a heap of shit if you could only have 2 or 3 cars driving round the track at a time. Such a shame.

Still, I was determined to get my money's worth, especially as I hadn't really played any car racing game since managing to break free of Grand Prix 3's hold on me a few years ago. And got my money's worth I did. Well, it was only £3.

So I decided to drive and smash my way through the single player career, and for the most part enjoyed it. However, there were a lot of things that also really bugged me about the game, the AI in particular:

Still, it was quite fun, and the mini-games were bananas. I definitely didn't feel like it was a chore to reach the end of this like I have done with some of the other games I've forced myself through while making this blog.

Ramming my nemesis

Ramming my nemesis

I don't think I should be in these bushes

I don't think I should be in these bushes

He shoots he scores

He shoots he scores

Someone's gonna get it

Someone's gonna get it

I don't think I should be this way up

I don't think I should be this way up

Sparks of insanity

Sparks of insanity

Crunch

Crunch

I win the trophy

I win the trophy

On a brain-challenging note, I've recently started looking into making mods for Dawn Of War. I knew this was possible years ago, but all I did back then was make maps, badges and banners. Rather than use Relic's own tools, I've started learning Corsix Mod Studio. It doesn't help that there are hardly any tutorials for modding out there, and no full manual for either Relic's tools or Mod Studio, but I have managed to get a few things worked out.

I originally wanted to make a mod where all races were combined into one "Apocalypse" race, so everyone would have access to everything in the game, but this baffled me. I have instead chosen to apply my own fixes to the races that currently exist, and make the armies slightly bigger. It's proving fun so far.

That's a lot of Land Raiders

That's a lot of Land Raiders

Much bigger armies make for more insanity

Much bigger armies make for more insanity

Yes, I think he's dead

Yes, I think he's dead

16th December 2014: Not So Marvel-ous

Getting on for a decade ago now, Scoob bought the two X-Men Legends games on the PS2. After borrowing it from him, the first one became one of the few games I ever completed on that console (well, I do only own eight). We played most of the second one co-op, but never got around to finishing it for whatever reason. Nevertheless, we both remember those games fondly, and the chance came to re-visit that era when I picked up Marvel: Ultimate Alliance for the PC cheap from eBay.

I'd recently bought a 360 controller to finally get around to Witcher 2, so we started off with Scoob using that and me on keyboard. Unfortunately, aiming ranged attacks while using keyboard is almost impossible, so I was forced into using close combat champs. We formed The Skumsplattaz superhero team with Scoob using Wolverine and Thor, while I went with Deadpool and The Thing. When using the keyboard had got on my nerves enough, I looked at other options. Luckily I found out there was a new, better way of installing PS3 controllers on Windows, as I was not a fan of the software that I used for Resident Evil 3 a couple of years ago. Of course, this means I didn't need a 360 controller after all, as I could have just used both my PS3 controllers. But whatever.
With joypad in hand, I replaced The Thing with Iron Man, to get some long range energy blasts in there.

So what's the game like? Unfortunately, we found the whole experience very underwhelming. Maybe it's because we're older now and button mashing brawlers just don't suit us anymore. Or it might be that the game just isn't as good as the X-Men games were. Without a doubt, the way that levelling up is handled in this game is inferior to those X-Men games. Rather than spend your experience points on increasing your hero's stats, you instead have to find stupid little drops throughout the game that do this job. Meh.

In terms of gameplay it's pretty much exactly what you would expect. You just run around clobbering bad guys and jumping around like a lunatic.
There were definitely a few things that really annoyed me. Firstly, there were way too many little cutscenes that took control away from us. Sometimes these were used for dialogue exchanges between bad guys, but usually it was just so the camera could spin around and show us something in the world that we needed to see. The thing is, if that thing it was showing us was necessary to continue, we would have found it anyway, quite easily, without the need to lose control.
There were also no real interesting boss fights. In pretty much every one, the fight was just a series of quicktime events, which was really disappointing as we really wanted to have a proper down and dirty scrap with these characters but couldn't.
Most of the time the camera was free to move, but some times it was strangely locked to a certain viewpoint. Very frustrating in some situations where we were fighting right on the limit of one fixed camera angle and another, meaning every second or two the camera angle would flick back and forth.

But still, it's another one down, so can't complain.

Thor and a bad guy do some synchronised dancing

Thor and a bad guy do some synchronised dancing

Two Mysterio copies do some synchronised dancing

Two Mysterio copies do some synchronised dancing

Seeing into Wolverine's brain

Seeing into Wolverine's brain

The Thing plays an old ZX Spectrum game

The Thing plays an old ZX Spectrum game

Wolverine's new wheels

Wolverine's new wheels

Deathbird dings the dong

Deathbird dings the dong

Let me go, bub

Let me go, bub

All Silver Surfer can do is annoy Galactus

All Silver Surfer can do is annoy Galactus

Evil Spider-Man copy being a twat

Evil Spider-Man copy being a twat

Wolverine wins the game with QTEs

Wolverine wins the game with QTEs

3rd November 2014: Mount Up

A few days back I had an email from Blizzard giving me 7 days free in World Of Warcraft. Not that I really wanted to reinstall such a big game for a few measly days, but I thought it would give me the chance to do something I wished I'd done years ago.

Now, I have a bit of an unhealthy obsession with names and characters, so much so that when I used to play WoW I even named all my mounts, including ones I hadn't even collected yet. Yes, I'm a tit. But still, I figured logging into the game again would give me chance to screenshot all those mounts, which I had forgotten to do years ago.

Now I didn't want to download all 28GB of the game on my crappy internet, so I got a head start (so I thought) and dusted off my game discs all the way up to Cataclysm. After installing those, the game went to the net to update, and I found out the game now requires the Battle.net application which manages the updates. The problem is, Battle.net wanted to download the entire game, and would not continue the install I'd already done. It just kept saying no Blizzard games could be found, and when I pointed it to my WoW folder it just said the game was the wrong version and wouldn't update it. So I had to download the damn thing anyway. Stupid Blizzard.

But it eventually happened that I logged into the game for the first time in nearly 4 years, and I'm seriously glad I had no intention of playing, as I could not remember a single thing. Even Orgrimmar seemed unfamiliar as I had only played Cataclysm for a few weeks at most, and I never got used to its changes.

I didn't really investigate any of the big changes I saw, but pretty much the only change I liked was actually the reason I had logged in in the first place: the mounts. In the years since I last played, Blizzard have added something called collections, which are available to all characters on an account. And one of these collections is the mounts. Any of the mounts any of your characters have ever unlocked are now shared to all of your other characters for them to use, provided they have the riding skill, and the mounts are not locked to a specific faction or class. To me this sounds like a great change, but I bet there were some angry people out there who had been questing and grinding for hours on different characters to get them all the best mounts multiple times, and all for nothing.
Still, none of that matters to me, and I finally got to take all my mount pictures:

Arkhan, the Black Skeletal Horse

Arkhan, the Black Skeletal Horse

Asurmen, the Azure Netherwing Drake

Asurmen, the Azure Netherwing Drake

Blaze, Fingus's Felsteed

Blaze, Fingus's Felsteed

Corel, the Swift Olive Raptor

Corel, the Swift Olive Raptor

D'Argo, Ashaai's Thalassian Charger

D'Argo, Ashaai's Thalassian Charger

Gelnika, the Emerald Raptor

Gelnika, the Emerald Raptor

Helo, the Blue Wind Rider

Helo, the Blue Wind Rider

Husker, the Tawny Wind Rider

Husker, the Tawny Wind Rider

Kalm, the Violet Raptor

Kalm, the Violet Raptor

Kamino, the Blue Nether Ray

Kamino, the Blue Nether Ray

Karthus, Undeadbarry's Archerus Deathcharger

Karthus, Undeadbarry's Archerus Deathcharger

Keldor, the Blue Skeletal Horse

Keldor, the Blue Skeletal Horse

Kit, the Abyssal Seahorse

Kit, the Abyssal Seahorse

Korriban, the Red Nether Ray

Korriban, the Red Nether Ray

Nanaki, the Swift Orange Raptor

Nanaki, the Swift Orange Raptor

Overbite, the White Kodo

Overbite, the White Kodo

Plagueis, the Time-Lost Proto-Drake

Plagueis, the Time-Lost Proto-Drake

Ratchet, the Goblin Trike

Ratchet, the Goblin Trike

Reno, the Turquoise Raptor

Reno, the Turquoise Raptor

Rygel, Ashaai's Thalassian Warhorse

Rygel, Ashaai's Thalassian Warhorse

Scorpia, the Swift Red Wind Rider

Scorpia, the Swift Red Wind Rider

Scowl, the Grey Kodo

Scowl, the Grey Kodo

Skittle, the Blue Hawkstrider

Skittle, the Blue Hawkstrider

Slog, the Brown Kodo

Slog, the Brown Kodo

Snakebite, the Armoured Brown Bear

Snakebite, the Armoured Brown Bear

Sven, the Frostwolf Howler

Sven, the Frostwolf Howler

Tuesti, the Swift Blue Raptor

Tuesti, the Swift Blue Raptor

Vlad, the Red Skeletal Warhorse

Vlad, the Red Skeletal Warhorse

28 mounts is not a lot considering how many mounts are in the game, but I worked damn hard to get some of those back in the day, so I don't care.
Not that anyone's interested, but here's how I was choosing the names for all the different kinds of mounts:

Bears = names of Warhammer 40,000 Ork clans.
Drakes (normal and Proto) = names of Sith Lords from Star Wars.
Drakes (Netherwing) = names of Warhammer 40,000 Eldar Phoenix Lords.
Hawkstriders = names of confectionery.
Horses (living) = names and places from Farscape.
Horses (Undead and demonic) = names of any other skeletal and undead characters.
Kodos = names of combiner team Transformers.
Mechanical = names of tools.
Nether Rays = planets from Star Wars.
Raptors = names and places from Final Fantasy VII.
Wind Riders = names and planets from Battlestar Galactica.
Wolves = names from the Warhammer 40,000 Space Wolf novels.

There were some strange things I noticed being back in the game, though. For a start, my Paladin Ashaai seemed to have had a strange hair mishap, as gone was his white hair to be replaced by black, for some reason. So a trip to the barber's was required to correct it.

Logging into my very first character, the poor old Ally Pally Jackgooty, revealed that somehow he has about 6 gryphon mounts available to him, despite me never unlocking any gryphon mounts at all. He doesn't even have enough skill to fly them. I can only assume, as Kropotkin had unlocked a bunch of the Wind Riders, it automatically unlocks the corresponing Alliance mounts.

Most strange though is the mystery surrounding one of my brother's old Alliance characters, a Night Elf hunter called Khi. Unsurprisingly, when looking down the roster of both our Horde and Alliance guilds, no character had been logged in for years. That is, with the exception of Khi, who was logged in 8 months ago. In addition, the poor hunter's name has been altered to Khixyz. I can only assume, around 8 months ago, another player wanted the name Khi, and my bro's character was changed to allow it. However, a search for a character called Khi on that server finds no results. It's a mystery.

For the hell of it I took Gooty for a spin and did a kill quest in Hellfire Peninsula. All kinds of memories came flooding back, but overall the game is still as boring as it ever was. If it was free to play I could imagine logging in occasionally with friends, but why millions of people still pay subscription fees to play it is beyond me.

Bleaching Ashaai's hair

Bleaching Ashaai's hair

Gooty stretches his legs

Gooty stretches his legs

21st October 2014: Going On A Quest

Unfortunately we failed to continue our interest in developing the 40K-S ruleset, though to be honest it was nearly there the last time we had some games and probably won't take much more effort to finish when we get back into it.

Our interest these last few weeks has all been about an old game that nevertheless is fairly new to me - Warhammer Quest. I had only ever played once before, which must have been at least a decade ago, and our party was wiped after just four board sections. How hard it seemed, and how little I knew of the rules, always left a bit of a sour taste in my mouth and I never had much interest in trying it again or learning it properly. I was always much more motivated to play the games I already knew the rules to such as Blood Bowl or Epic.
Wanting to keep the gaming wheels turning I have however started to get into it as it seems it's the only game Scoob wants to play at the moment.

To try it out we did a series of four games, of which we only managed to complete the first one, and the fourth of which led to the deaths of two of our four characters. Again the difficulty and the surprisingly long time it takes to finish a game have annoyed me a little. But Scoob assures me once the characters are levelled up a bit it becomes much more fun. So rather than quit or start again, we have decided to keep the two survivors and ramp things up even more, by switching to a 6-man party. I've bought some new Reaper Bones models rather than use the old Warhammer models that I had been using, but they've proven a bit troublesome to both prep and paint. Due to the very flexible plastic they are made of, some of the models arrived badly bent, and I've had to try reshaping them using boiling water. But still some problems remain.

On the painting side, you can tell there's a lack of detail compared to the original metal versions, and at some points I'm having trouble knowing where one colour should end and another begin.
It seems the only thing I have managed to do with little trouble over these last few weeks is print off some new, larger rooms for the game, to allow for the bigger party and the extra monsters that will be needed. I actually made most of the rooms myself which was pretty cool to do.

One of the other things that annoys me with the game is the fact you have to roll the dice for the monsters, either rolling them against yourself or against your team mates. So along with the new models and dungeons we are preparing, another thing I wanted to do was make some random dice rollers. Now the computer will roll against us and I'll feel less of a dick for rolling all those sixes against Scoob.

The very bendy Reaper Bones models

The very bendy Reaper Bones models

Printing some bigger Warhammer Quest tiles

Printing some bigger Warhammer Quest tiles

In Blood Bowl news, I finally got around to trying to turn Tifa into Bertha with an old Warhammer model's cloak and a whole load of green stuff. She looks absolutely shite, but I'm no sculptor and I've done the best I can. Hopefully some paint will help her fit in with the other models somewhat.

I've also had a lot of trouble undercoating Impact's Amazon team. These ladies are made of the same Trollcast Resin that the Sarcos team are made of, which gave me no trouble at all. Though I prepped them exactly the same with the soap and toothbrush scrub recommended for such models, the white Halford's spray I tried just flaked off them almost immediately. So I had to scrub them all again, and assumed it was the spray that was at fault. However, I then bought some Army Painter white spray, after being very impressed with their blue a few months back. But still the same problem persisted. I would say that the Army Painter spray flaked off even easier that the Halford's spray, and once again they had a scrub to remove the paint. You can see on the picture below that very little of the spray managed to stick after a gentle scrub.

In the end I've had to paint Skull White onto them with a brush, which seems to have stuck fine. I have no idea what was going on there.
Overall very disappointed with that Army Painter white, as it has laid down a fairly rough texture on the new Reaper models as well, making it even harder to paint them.

Blood Bowl prep work

Blood Bowl prep work

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